A Winner, and Some Weekend Favorites!

Thanks so much for all the suggestions of new favorites to try, everyone! I loved reading all of the comments about what you’ve been enjoying lately!

The winner of the draw is Pam Koop! Based on all the interest that’s been expressed in the book, Switch on Your Brain, I decided to give that book away as a prize. Thanks to everyone who participated!

And while I’m here, I have a few photos from the weekend to share.

We were at my parents’ cabin for a cold, stormy weekend. The power was out for most of our time there, but it was a very relaxing time!:) We were just about to enjoy some fun on the water when the storm came in – fast!

lake

 

stormstormSo we went inside to enjoy some books and naps instead.:)

napsWe watched the full moon come up, and played cards by candlelight.:)

mooncardsIt’s funny how fast no power can make me appreciate it when it comes back on! Feel very thankful when you take a hot shower today!:)

Birthday Favorites: Blog Reading

Hey, Friends! It’s that time again – this week is my birthday, and it’s tradition around here to share everything I’m loving right now, and the things that have made this last year enjoyable/delicious/successful/positive in any way.:)

Leave a comment sharing YOUR favorites, and you’ll be entered in a draw for a prize….

Today I want to share a bunch of blogs that I enjoy on a regular basis, but I’d love to hear what your favorites are, too!

1) Spiritual Growth Blog: A Holy Experience

How does Ann Voskamp do it? Day after day, she writes these deep, thought-provoking posts, and takes the most beautiful photography. Almost every blog post leaves me with something profound to chew on.

2) Food Blog: Oh She Glows

This has been my favorite for years, and I’ve used it even more in the last year than ever before. Any time I need a salad or dessert recipe, or new lunch ideas, I am never disappointed with this blog. She just came out with a cookbook this year, which is definitely on my birthday list!

3) Simple/Minimalist Living: Becoming Minimalist

This is the blog that keeps me purging our closets and cupboards. Joshua Becker has such a down-to-earth approach about how to live simply, and figure out what we truly need to enjoy life, and what we can leave behin.

4) Organizing Blog: I Heart Organizing

So many cute ideas for making organizing pretty!

5) Sewing/Fashion Blog: Merrick’s Art

This is the blog that has me buying Target maxi skirts in the wrong size, because now I know how easy it is to alter stuff. Her sewing projects make everything look easy.

6) Decorating Blog: Centsational Girl

LOVE all her decorating ideas. I also really enjoy her “Best of the Blogosphere” posts for decorating ideas.

7) Photography/Memory Keeping Blog: Ali Edwards

I have loved Ali Edwards’ stuff for years. Such fantastic photography, and she is the classiest scrapbooker around. I love looking at her stuff, even though I don’t scrapbook anymore – I just love getting ideas for digital scrapbooking, and seeing how she documents stuff.

8) Health/Wellness Blog: Wellness Mama

She has a natural remedy for everything. I’ve learned a ton from her blog.

9) Photography/Story-Telling Blog: Enjoying the Small Things

Amazing photography, and I just love how she writes about her life. Her blog post about finding out that her newborn had Down Syndrome is the most beautiful blog post I’ve ever read.

10) Simple/Natural Living: Shalom Mama

She lives in a bus with her husband and four kids! Love reading her view on things, and cannot imagine doing life that way, but it intrigues me!

There are so many blogs to enjoy out there – totally understand the need for balance, and not letting it take over too much, time, but these are the ten that I look forward to reading the most! What are you enjoying?

Birthday Favorites: Stuff Around the House

Hey, Friends! It’s that time again – this week is my birthday, and it’s tradition around here to share everything I’m loving right now, and the things that have made this last year enjoyable/delicious/successful/positive in any way.:)

Leave a comment sharing YOUR favorites, and you’ll be entered in a draw for a prize….

Today’s topic is household hints! Here are a few things I’ve been loving around our home this past year:

1) Norwex Cleaning Paste on the Stove

When we were buying appliances for our new house, people seemed to be pretty opinionated about smooth stovetops. Either you love ’em or hate ’em, apparently. I was told numerous times, “Don’t buy one!! They are SOOOO hard to clean!”

In the end, we went with a smooth-topped stove, and I haven’t been sorry. If it doesn’t get cleaned right away, stuff can stick on pretty good, but then a brilliant friend said, “I just use Norwex Cleaning Paste.”

Norwex Cleaning Paste

Well, now. That stuff is AMAZING! I already had some, but wasn’t using it much. It requires some scrubbing , but it gets everything off.

I love it when people share their cleaning tips!!

2) Hang-Drying Our Laundry

Although I’ve done this off and on in the past, it was our “Electricity Fast” last fall that got me back into the habit again. That little experiment saved us about $70 on our hydro bill! We did more than just stop using the dryer, and most of those changes became habits, but hang-drying laundry is my favorite one that stuck.

At first, it seemed like a lot of extra work, for a small amount of savings. I think we calculated a savings of about five dollars a week for me to hang our laundry instead of using our dryer. But then there’s less wear and tear on our clothes, and in the end, it’s easier for me. That probably sounds weird, but here’s the thing: I hang wet clothes in the closet, where they belong anyway. They dry cleaned up already, and there’s so much less laundry to fold.

hang-drying laundry

When I first got pregnant in spring, and felt horrendous, I couldn’t be bothered with hanging all our clothes to dry, so I got back into the habit of stuffing everything into the dryer, and then I was left with mountains of wrinkled, clean laundry that wouldn’t get cleaned up until the next week. Someone was always freaking out about not being able to find their clothes in the mornings (“It’s somewhere on top of the dryer…!”), and it was grumpy and chaotic, and I didn’t like it at all.

As soon as I started feeling better, I was back to hanging laundry to dry, and I came to the conclusion that for me, it’s just easier! For most of our clothing, I only handle it once. I dry some things on racks, but folding it takes minimal time, because the majority of our laundry is already put away.

3) Google Calendar

I got a smart phone this last year. I always said I never would, but I changed my mind when I started missing appointments because of having the wrong information written down, or not having my pocket calendar with me. Also, my mom and friends kept asking when I would start texting, and it finally became clear that while living at camp, I did not need a smart phone, but living in the “real world” would be much easier with one.

I’m not on it that much, but with all of the appointments I make each week, I love having a way of entering in activities and events that will show up on my phone, and on our home computer.

I also wrote about how I love doing menu planning on our Google calendar. What I’m making for supper can depend on what we’re doing that day – in the city all day means the slow-cooker will save the day. Being at home all day means I should plan to “cook ahead”, and make sure we have enough granola, or cooked chicken and beans packaged in the freezer. Combining menu planning with our schedule has made things work much smoother.

menu

4) Room-Darkening Curtains

We’re super blessed to have massive windows in our living/dining room areas, but it gets pretty toasty in here during the summer afternoons. And we’re blinded by sunshine at the supper table. Which is great and all, but one day, I suddenly woke up to the fact that my light, breezy curtains were doing nothing to keep out the sun and heat.

My first big project of the summer was finding room-darkening curtains. It makes such a huge difference!!! Yes, we could just turn on the air conditioner, but I would rather save some energy, and close the curtains for a few hours each afternoon.

new curtains

5) Curtain-lengthening Trick

This one kinda goes with the previous favorite. In my search for new curtains, I found exactly what I was looking for at IKEA…except they were a foot too short. We have nine foot ceilings, and I love having ceiling-to-floor curtains, but it is really hard to find curtains that length.

Enter another brilliant friend: she just bought some contrasting fabric, and added a strip to the bottom of her curtains. Since it looked awesome at her house, I decided to try the same thing myself, and although it was a bit of work, it saved me the cost of custom-made curtains.

I actually like how the curtains look better with the strip at the bottom – it adds some interest to otherwise plain curtains.

curtains

Alright, now I want to hear from you! Please, please share! Seeing as two of my favorite tips come from friends, I think it shows how important it is to share the love! Don’t keep your household secrets a secret!:) Tell me how to make my life easier – especially with a new baby on the way…

Birthday Favorites: Food

Hey, Friends! It’s that time again – this week is my birthday, and it’s tradition around here to share everything I’m loving right now, and the things that have made this last year enjoyable/delicious/successful/positive in any way.:)

Leave a comment sharing YOUR favorites, and you’ll be entered in a draw for a prize….

Today we’re talking about food! I love talking about food. I love making it, photographing it, studying new recipes for it, and…EATING it!:)

Here are my favorite things to eat right now:

Breakfast: Baked Apple Pancake

I will always and forever love my green smoothie for breakfast – I told Anika this morning that when I’m an old lady in a nursing home, she needs to come bring me green smoothies.

BUT. If I’m going to eat anything else, this baked apple pancake is my new favorite. I kinda made up the recipe. I cut up three apples and fried them in lots of butter and cinnamon, and then dumped them into a 9×13 pan once they were soft. Then I mixed up this pancake batter, and poured it over the apples. I baked it at 350 until it felt firm to the touch, about half an hour.

wpid-wp-1404318561280.jpeg

Lunch: Salads!

I don’t really have recipes for these – I just kind of throw together whatever looks good. I love having tons of fresh vegetables and herbs on hand, and making it a really filling salad with chicken or avocados and cooked eggs. I love experimenting with different oils, seasonings, and dressings.

salad

Supper: Chip Potatoes

This is something I made up this last winter, and everybody in our family loves it, so we keep making it. So simple – just slice up potatoes super thin, cover it with chunks of butter and lots of sea salt.

potatoesBake it at 400 for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes start getting all brown and crispy.

potatoes

Best Restaurant I Ate at This Year: Buccacino’s!

A few weeks ago, I was going out for dinner with a friend, and we couldn’t decide where to eat. I was in the mood for something new and different – the fantastic food on my trip to Ottawa had left me craving something exciting. We quickly googled gluten-free restaurants in Winnipeg, and chose Buccacino’s. It’s so delicious, I can’t wait to go back!

Besides the fact that I’m in Food Heaven whenever I can eat gluten-free pasta, I also was quite impressed with the reasonable prices.

New Recipes:

Because I’m constantly trying new recipes, it’s hard to choose just one favorite, so here are a few that we’ve been enjoying, in case you’re in need of some new ideas!

Best Ever Beef Stew

Veggie and Brown Rice Noodle Bowl

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blender Muffins

Energizing Protein Power Salad

Your turn! What are your favorite foods, recipes, and restaurants? I want to hear all about it!:)

Kaylia Turns Five

We’ve partied hard this weekend, and now Kaylia has been celebrated into her next year of life.:)

birthday

As is the custom around here, it’s time to record her birthday favorites:

Breakfast: Pancakes and Waffles

Lunch: carrots, rice cake sandwiches

Supper: “Breakfast Supper” (which is what we call it when we have pancakes or other breakfast food for supper – the biggest treat ever at our house.)

Snack: Fruit

Clothes: Hello Kitty dress

Favorite Books: anything to do with Disney princesses

Favorite Toys: Lego Friends, Polly Pockets, anything Disney princess

Favorite Things to do: whatever Anika is doing, playing in the sandbox, wrapping herself up in a blanket on the floor and quietly playing there for so long that we forget where she is:), listening to stories on cds.

She is one funny girl. She doesn’t often want to be the center of attention, but she’ll quietly come up with the most hilarious things to say. When she’s in trouble, she’ll first try to joke her way out of it, then she’ll get very affectionate and try to snuggle her way out of it, and if neither of those strategies work,  she will finally expresses her extreme unhappiness over the situation!

She’s quick to apologize (when it’s her idea!), extremely generous with her sister, wants a tidy room, and delights in helping out however she can.

She wants to do things herself, her way, and I’ve become much better at making everything multiple choice, rather than commanding her to do anything.

Ben says she’s like he was as a little boy, which makes me curious what she will be capable of as she grows up! That feisty, fun energy could accomplish great things!